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Domestic Violence Bill, 2006 (H.B. 9, 2006)
June 30, 2006
Gazetted Friday 30 June, 2006

Important note: This Bill has been replaced by HB 9A, 2006
View the index of articles on the debate around the Domestic Violence Bill

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Domestic Violence Bill, 2006


This Bill will provide for protection and relief to victims of domestic violence. It was discovered after worldwide research that domestic violence is a serious problem. The United Nations called for global action to end violence against women, in particular hence, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which Zimbabwe have signed and ratified. The SADC heads of State or Government on 14 September, 1998 in Mauritius signed an addendum to the 1997 Declaration on Gender and Development on "The Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Children" and resolved to adopt measures aimed at enacting laws making various forms of violence against women, clearly defined crimes with appropriate penalties in order to prevent and eradicate domestic violence.

It is the purpose of this Bill to afford the victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from domestic violence that the law can provide and to introduce measures which seek to ensure that the relevant organs of the State give full effect to the provisions of this Bill.

The individual clauses of the Bill provide as follows:

Clause 1
This clause sets out the Bill's short title.

Clause 2
This clause will define terms that are used elsewhere in the Bill.

Clause 3
This clause seeks to outline the meaning and scope of domestic violence. Under the current common law offences, there is no offence called domestic violence. What has been happening is that once any form of domestic violence is reported to the police, it would be slotted into any of the common law offences of assault common; assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm; indecent assault and many others. This therefore, tended to limit the scope of domestic violence since any other act of domestic violence that failed to fit in the existing common law offences would not be considered as an offence. The phenomenon of domestic violence has for long been conceived primarily as a private family affair to be resolved silently within the four walls of the home. Whereas the privacy of the home and the centrality attributed to intimate relations are valued, privacy and intimacy often provide the opportunity for violence and the justification for non-interference. Thus, it is the purpose of the clause to outline all acts of domestic violence which should be considered as punishable under the law.

Thus, this clause seeks to widen the scope of domestic violence to include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, verbal and psychological abuse, economic abuse, intimidation, harassment, stalking, damage to property, entry into complainant's place without consent where the parties do not share the same residence, depriving or hindering the complainant from access to his or her place of residence, depriving the complainant of a reasonable share of the use of the facilities associated with his or her place of residence. Also considered as domestic violence is the abuse derived from cultural or customary rites or practices that discriminate or degrade women such as forced virginity testing, female genital mutilation, pledging of women and girls for purposes of appeasing spirits, abduction, child marriages, forced marriages, forced wife inheritance and other such practices. The abuse perpetrated on the complainant by virtue of his or her age, physical or mental incapacity is also considered as domestic violence under this clause.

This clause goes further to define some of the forms of domestic violence outlined above for the avoidance of doubt.

Clause 4
This clause makes it mandatory for every police station to have a section to deal with domestic violence matters and also places a legal duty on the police to assist a complainant of domestic violence. This clause makes it incumbent on the police to assist the complainant to obtain shelter, medical treatment and in any other way. The police are also supposed to advise the complainant of his or her right to seek relief under this Act or to lodge a criminal complaint. This clause also gives the complainant the right to choose to make a report to or have a statement recorded by a police officer of the same sex as him or her. Every police station is obliged to have a domestic violence section to be manned by officers trained to handle domestic violence cases where it is possible.

Clause 5
This clause gives the police the power to arrest forthwith, without a warrant any person reasonably suspected to have committed or who is threatening to commit an act of domestic violence on a complainant. The clause also outlines the factors to be considered by a police officer before effecting the arrest without a warrant. Any person so arrested is to be brought before a magistrate within forty-eight hours.

Clauses 6 and 7
These clauses provide for the making of an application for a protection order and the determination thereof. The clause give the locus standi to make an application for a protection order to a wide variety of persons besides the complainant and these include a person acting with the consent of the complainant, a person having care or custody of the complainant and also a complainant's representative. The complainant's representative can make an application only with the leave of the court and does not need the complainant's consent. This therefore ensures that most if not all cases of domestic violence will be brought to the courts. An application for a protection order can be brought to court outside the ordinary court hours and on any day. Such an application has to be dealt with as soon as possible and the court can call for evidence either orally or by affidavit.

Clauses 8, 9 and 10
Clauses 8, 9 and 10 provide for the issuing of an interim protection order, a final protection order and the contents thereof respectively. Whilst a protection order is issued after the court has had the opportunity to consider evidence, an interim protection order may be issued on receipt of the application once the court is satisfied that prima facie the respondent has committed, is committing or is threatening to commit an act of domestic violence and it is necessary to immediately issue an order to protect the complainant from serious harm, discomfort or inconvenience as a result of such domestic violence.

Whenever a court issues an interim protection order or final protection order it shall also issue a warrant for the arrest of the respondent which shall only be suspended when the respondent complies with the order. The issue of an interim protection order and a protection order shall not in any way bar criminal proceedings against a person perpetrating domestic violence. Clause 10 provides for the contents of both an interim protection order and a protection order which basically are prohibitions on the respondent from committing or enlisting the help of another person to commit any act of domestic violence.

Clauses 11 and 12
Clause 11 provides for the circumstances under which an interim protection order or protection order may be revoked, varied or extended by the court on application by either the complainant, complainant's representative or the respondent. Clause 12 provides for the issuing of further copies of protection orders and warrants of arrest in the event of the original ones getting lost, destroyed or utilised in effecting the arrest of the respondent.

Clause 13
This clause provides for the enforcement of both the interim protection order and protection order and the circumstances under which any police officer may arrest a respondent for non-compliance with either order.

Clauses 14 and 15
Clause 14 provides for the appointment of anti-domestic violence counsellors and also spells out their functions. Clause 15 provides for the establishment of an Anti-Domestic Violence Committee whose members shall be representatives of various government ministries and departments and those private voluntary organisations specialising in issues related to domestic violence, children's rights and women's rights. The Committee shall be headed by a Chairperson and a deputy Chairperson both must be persons qualified or experienced in prescribed disciplines. The clause also sets out the functions of the Committee which are basically to keep under constant review the problem of domestic violence and to monitor the application and enforcement of this Act. The Committee is given power under this clause to appoint one or more sub-committees to operate in provinces or districts throughout the country.

Clause 16
This clause criminalises all acts of domestic violence as defined in section 3 with the exception of emotional, verbal and psychological abuse and economic abuse and stipulates the relevant penalty. It also makes it an offence for any person to make any false statement in an application or affidavit made in terms of this Act and stipulates the relevant penalty. It also makes it an aggravating factor to commit any other criminal offence within a domestic set-up.

Clause 17
This clause gives the Minister authority to make regulations on anything necessary for giving effect to this Act.

Domestic Violence Bill, 2006

Arrangement of Sections

1. Short title and date of commencement.
2. Interpretation.
3. Meaning of domestic violence and its scope.

4. Duties of police officers in relation to domestic violence.
5. Arrest by police officer without warrant.

6. Application for protection order.
7. Determination of application.
8. Issue of interim protection order.
9. Issue of protection order.
10. Contents of protection order.
11. Application for revocation, variation or extension of protection orders.
12. Issue of further copies of orders and warrants of arrest.
13. Enforcement of protection orders.

14. Anti-domestic violence counsellors.
15. Anti-Domestic Violence Committee.

16. Offences.
17. Regulations.


To make provision for the protection of and relief to victims of domestic violence and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing.

ENACTED by the President and the Parliament of Zimbabwe.


1 Short title and date of commencement

(1) This Act may be cited as the Domestic Violence Act, 2006.
(2) This Act shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by the President by statutory instrument:

Provided that the President may fix different dates of commencement for different provisions of this Act.

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